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Spanish Town Square

Devaro Bolton
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

AS we celebrate Emancipation Day tomorrow, TEENage highlights this week's Jamaica 50 historical journey, in the once focal point of our nation's old capital, the Spanish Town Square, the original Emancipation Park.

This specific area of Jamaica boasts arguably the most significant sites and momuments of the country's history spanning the years of colonialism onwards.

While the town was of signifance for the Spanish during their rule, the square gained its prestige from the English, who constructed in the area the Court House, the House of Assembly and the King's House, which was the Governor's official residence on the island.

Indeed, the Spanish Town Square is still viewed as the landmark for some of the best displays of Georgian architecture, not only in Jamaica, but in the Western Hemisphere.

To the east of the square is the House of Assembly which was built between 1755 and 1762; and to the west of the park is the King's House where the Governors of Jamaica called home until 1872. This particular landmark was built in 1765, a few years after the House of Assembly.

Though all landmarks of the area are integral to Jamaica's history, King's House boasts a key significance as it was from the steps of the building that the Proclamation of Emancipation was read on August 1, 1838, ultimately bringing an end to centuries of enslavement.

In April of 1782, the French and Spanish planned an invasion of Jamaica. However, a British fleet, led by Admiral Sir George Rodney, emerged victorious in what was dubbed the Battle of the Saints.

Subsequently, the admiral was honoured with a momument on the north side of the Spanish Town Square, the Rodney Memorial, in 1801.

The piece, which is reported to have cost over £30,000 was sculpted by famous English sculptor John Bacon.

To the south of the park lies the remains of the original Court House, which was built in 1819 but destroyed by fire in 1986. The remains of the old barracks are also still present in the area.

The Jamaica National Heritage Trust has various plaques in the square that highlight the history of the town, as well as some of the key events that took place in the area, a favourite for history trips or for tourists looking to learn about our history.

In more recent times, the Spanish Town Square has become the site of The Jamaican Peoples Museum of Craft and Technology, which occupies the space of the former stables block of the Enlgish.

The site hosts many of the island's key artifacts ranging from items of the Ameridians through to the English. The Jamaica Archives are also located in the area.

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